They acknowledge that Google designs its own computer servers and other hardware for the massive data centers powering its web empire. They admit that Facebook does much the same thing, contracting with manufacturers in Asia to build its custom hardware. And they realize that most of the big web players — from Google, Facebook, and Amazon to Twitter and Yahoo — build all sorts of custom software platforms for juggling unprecedented amounts of online data. But they say the big web players aren’t like other companies, that this custom engineering work doesn’t mean that much for the rest of the world.
And they couldn’t be more wrong.
In the world of business tech, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and other web giants have become the bellwethers. They build stuff to solve problems no one else has ever faced, and then that stuff trickles down to everyone else. This is true of software, with the big web players spawning widely used open source platforms such as Hadoop. But it’s also true of hardware.